Author: Allanna LESKENLI
He left us on May 4, 2018 to touch the stars. A legendary actor and man did not live 20 days to see his birthday...
A year later, the free association of actors staged voluntarily a play called Old Telephone. The plot is based on Paul Villard's very short True Story published back in 1966 in the popular American magazine Reader's Digest. A few decades later, Yevgenia Horovets from New York translated the story into Russian and published it on her Live Journal page ("Samizdat", 2011) under the name Stariy telefon (Old Telephone). But the same story has been also translated as Operator, budte dobry (Information Please). This touching and bright short story is all about gratitude. Gratitude for love that saves us from loneliness and fear, the love that protects us as a shield from all injustice, troubles and misfortunes of earthly life.
Quote: "When I was quite young, my family had one of the first telephones in our neighbourhood… The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box… I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked into it… Then I discovered that somewhere inside that wonderful device lived an amazing person — her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing that she did not know."
Predestination from above
Horovets's translation has been shared online repeatedly through social networks by her grateful readers. Once the daughter of director and actor Abdulgani Aliyev read the story out loud to him. "From that moment on I could not think of anything else. The story struck deep inside me. It simply would not leave me for a minute. No matter what I did, I could not forget the story of this little boy. Then suddenly I realised that I want to stage it."
The following events unfolded in an almost mystical way. One of our fellow compatriots living in Estonia made a proposal to actor Hikmet Rahimov to act in the same play, if it is staged. Hikmet then came to Abdulgani with a proposal to create a touring project. And this moment was truly mystical, because it was probably at this very instant that the stars controlling the situation converged to a single point of interest. Hikmet immediately made a proposal to dedicate the play to the national artist Fuad Poladov, for he considered him Mr. Information Please, who let Hikmet and his fellows know that "there are other worlds to sing in". For his young colleagues, Poladov was not just a mentor, not a mega-authoritarian at all, but simply a Man who understood how difficult it was to be a novice actor. Even today his students remember Fuad Poladov with love, reverence and respect calling him Fuad-muallim as a token of respect. He forever remained for them a model of human and professional dignity. He used to walked through life in the same way as through his profession, nobly and confidently. He used to carry his burden with a dignity of a self-sufficient professional, who in practice demonstrated that being a servant of Melpomene did not tolerate vanity. He did not tolerate falsehood and unreasonable ambitions, passion, envy and intrigue. For him, the only place to satisfy ambitions was the stage. And it is the result of the process of dedication, a process that, if you value "art in yourself, and not yourself in art," takes away all your thoughts and feelings completely, leaving no room for mouse-behind-the-scenes fuss. Therefore, many of those who are fortunate enough to go on stage with the performances of the Russian Drama Theatre, still say: "Fuad-muallim said that...", "Fuad-muallim would never do that...", "Fuad-muallim would say that... ","Fuad-muallim would not have approved this...".
There is no death!
But he would never read the notations, would not raise his tone, never scolded anyone, even if the relationship between the actor and his character went wrong. He knew how to respect the dignity of his young colleagues, to spare their self-esteem. And if something in their theatrical ethics was beyond conventional concepts, he would look disapprovingly and strictly. This usually worked, influencing a person much more powerful than ever, than accusation made impatiently. This is what actors, colleagues, friends of the National Artist of Azerbaijan Fuad Poladov were discussing recalling Maestro at the evening. And Abdulgani Aliyev's Old Telephone sounded as a hymn, as a declaration of love to a person and an actor.
His name sounds as Polard at the very beginning of the retrospective action, which is built upon the memories of an aged character. This was an intended pun, reference of the director to the last name of Poladov. The name of character in the original story is Paul. The audience approvingly responded to such a boldness move of Aliyev and plunged into action. Actor Hikmet Rahimov, together with his colleagues Munavver Aliyeva and Fidan Bayramova, lived the life of their characters from the age of a preschool boy to the age of a man of deep grey hair, singing a hymn to Fuad Poladov, who knew how to be the saving voice from the handset which would give a sense of security, love and support. The performance, staged according to the story, which can be read in five minutes, lasted almost two hours. And in the finale, when the stage story came to an end and an image of Fuad Poladov appeared on the screen - it was so lively and so expensive for everyone, we could suddenly hear Aladdin Yagubov's poem His Majesty Actor performed by Lyudmila Dukhovnaya.
Chamber confidentiality of tone, the words pronounced by his long-term partner in performances, created an unusually sublime atmosphere of mutual understanding between those who were on stage and those who were in the hall. There was a feeling that His Majesty Actor - Fuad Poladov - entered into an open dialogue with everyone who came to give him his appreciation and love. For the fact that he was all these years with them, for being the way he was, for being able to BE, not to COLLECT. The last quatrain of the poem:
There, on eternal stage of God,
The king will read his monologue,
Lo, who's entering the stage to sum up what the king has said?
Please welcome, that is him, the Lord!
caused a flurry of deafening applause. The audience accepted the director's version confirmed by Yagubov’s poems performed by Dukhovnaya: there is no death! Death is just a transition into another dimension. Death is just a prolongation of Actor's life by those who remember and love him; who remembers his conversations because he entered their lives and became the measure of professional and human values.
Then, after the echoing poems, an image of the Actor in his various emotional states comes to life again on the screen under the deafening applause from the audience. No one, not a single person wanted to leave the hall, because suddenly everyone had a mystical feeling that right now, from the backstage on the right... Fuad Poladov will enter the stage! The feeling was so real that the audience, reluctantly leaving the hall, had an expression of slight bewilderment on their faces: how? Will he not come out?
On May 24, 2019, Fuad Poladov, the legend of national theatre and cinema art, once again stepped onto the stage of the Russian Academic Drama Theatre, which he has faithfully served for thirty years. The actor invisibly held sway in the performance of Hikmet and his partners, in the sensations and feelings of the audience... We thought that perhaps now, at this very moment, God met the Actor somewhere on the outskirts of the Universe!
Theatre again. Sea of passion.
Vehemence on the stage of action,
Where death is paltry as a factor,
We see His Majesty, the Actor!
It's true. There is no death. It is also true that "there are other worlds where you can sing."